High-Cost Dual Eligibles Service Use Demonstrates The Need For Supportive And Palliative Models Of Care
Author: Julie P. W. Bynum, Andrea Austin, Donald Carmichael, Ellen Meara
Health care spending is generally highest among people who need both complex medical care and long-term services and supports, such as adults dually eligible for Medicare and Medicaid. Understanding how different types of complex patients use services over time can inform policies that target this population. High combined Medicare and Medicaid spending are found in two distinct groups of high-cost dual eligibles: older beneficiaries who are nearing the end of life, and younger beneficiaries with sustained need for functional supports. However, both groups have high hospitalization costs. Among high-cost dual eligibles living in the community, those who are older spend less on home and community-based services than those who are younger. Greater use of such services might provide stable support in the last year or two of life, when illness and functional decline accelerate. Tailored approaches to each population’s distinct needs could yield care of increased value to patients and their families, with the potential to lower costs if patients’ needs can be met with fewer stays in short-term inpatient facilities.